Let's take stock for a moment: how has your voice improved in the past year? What do you want to work on in 2018? Got any outstanding questions or fears holding you back? Got some good trainings lined up to learn new skills? How about the overall health of your voice? Believe it or not, it's connected to the overall health of your body.
Being human comes with many challenges. We know that stress is bad for us, and we bravely struggle to maintain a balance of mind, body and spirit that enables us to be our best in the world. Now more than ever, self-care is a worthwhile investment of our precious time. If you're going to speak (and sing) up for yourself, some of that time needs to be dedicated to your voice.
I'm constantly reminding my clients that the health of your body IS the health of your voice. If you are tired, run-down, and listless your voice will be as well. Getting to good health involves a series of good habits, big and small, that we practice every day. Over time we come to trust these habits as they begin to work, making us stronger, fitter, and more resilient.
Some excellent habits that can improve the health of your voice (and your entire body) are drinking more water (start with a giant glass of H20 before your morning coffee), prioritizing sleep (try going to bed an hour earlier, and let your body learn to relax into it), and working on cardio fitness (so that your lungs are healthy and strong, for deeper breath support when you speak and sing). These are proven ways to uplift your overall state of health as well as that of your voice. There is one other important issue I want to address, and that is chronic pain/ inflammation.
Inflammation is part of the aging process. The degree to which we experience its effects depends on both genealogical and lifestyle factors. Some of these are beyond our control, but many of them we can improve via our good daily habits. There are some kinds of inflammation, however, that can and should be addressed (and healed) for the good of your voice. Some of these include chronic lung issues, like asthma, bronchitis and frequent colds that lead to coughs. The larynx, home of your vocal cords, sits right on top of the trachea, your windpipe. Coughing and wheezing can cause the larynx to become tense and irritated. Many people try to "power through" these kinds of illnesses, thinking that they'll resolve on their own. But if left untreated for too long these issues can cause terrible hoarseness, and even long-term laryngitis. If your voice is compromised your ability to be effective in the world is limited, because you cannot speak up for yourself in a powerful way.
I advise my clients to take care of these issues quickly when they appear. I also remind them that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", and encourage them to explore new and more effective ways to boost their immunity. For myself, I've always had great success with acupuncture, which I receive regularly. I also avoid dairy products, which cause huge problems in my digestion, sleep, and vocal tone, and make any allergy/cold symptoms much worse. I guard my sleep carefully, and make sure not to stay too long (or party too hard) at parties. If there's one thing I've learned from my years onstage, it's that you should always leave 'em wanting more :)